Who won winemaker, brewer and distiller of the year?
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Who won winemaker, brewer and distiller of the year?

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Vintage Cellars
April 20, 2017
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What makes an exceptional beer? Where are the most inspiring new spirits being distilled? And how do you know the difference between an ordinary winemaker, and an extraordinary one? These 2017 Best Of Award winners hold the answer.

The Vintage Cellars Best Of Awards sets out to determine which wineries, breweries and distilleries are raising the bar of excellence throughout Australia and the world.

From a selection of over 400 carefully shortlisted entrants, our judges drew upon their collective wealth of tasting knowledge and experience to name the very best wine, beer and spirit producers of 2017.

Winemaker of the Year: Teusner Wines

Head Winemaker: Kym Teusner
Location: Barossa Valley, SA

Teusner wins a winery trifecta

In 2016, Teusner Wines won Vintage Cellars Best Red and Best Wine with The Independent – a rich, darkly ripe Shiraz ingeniously blended with a meatier, more savoury Matano. This year, they've turned their double happiness into a hat-trick by sweeping up the 2017 Vintage Cellars Winemaker of the Year Award.

But in the realm of the winemaker, winning awards is never the work of a single individual. The tireless dedication of this Barossa winery’s stellar crew and the unwavering support of family and friends is a huge part. But Kym Teusner puts the honour of clinching first place down to Teusner Wine’s relationships with its growers. These suppliers have tended to the same plots of earth for generations and imbue that integrity in every bottle of Teusner Wines.

For Kym and his business partner Mick Page, getting the best out of these glorious grapes is a labour of equal parts love and play. “Sometimes winemaking is serious, but at Teusner, it’s always fun,” says Kym. In Kym’s opinion, it’s this kind of passion and care that makes the difference between an ordinary winemaker, and an award-winning winemaker.

And they should know. Heaping accolade upon accolade, Teusner Wines is now moving into its next big phase of operations. This includes the addition of an impressive new purpose-built winery and a host of exciting experimentations in the works.

We'll be keeping Teusner Wines on our radar and we think you should too.

Distiller of the Year: St George Distillery

Head Distiller: Lance Winters
Location: California, USA

St George daringly explores the art of distillation

The mavericks at St George Distillery strive for the highest ideals of spirit-making. They don’t mind slaying a few old ideas about the ‘right’ way to do things, either. One tasting of their distinctive gins, rums and other crafted spirits will leave you in no doubt about how they came to win Vintage Cellar’s Best Distillery for 2017.

St George produce spirits which are bold, aromatic and artisanal. The Californian distillery’s purpose is to ‘delight hedonists and genius bartenders’ alike. Hardly a surprising mission for a distiller which has forged one of the most surprising paths in spirit production in recent years. Opting for exploration over traditionalism, St George refuse to stop experimenting with flavour profiles until they’ve hit on something truly special. “When we make something that resonates with us, we release it into the wild," they say. "The feedback we get in the form of amazing cocktail ideas and sincere praise is what fuels us.”

It’s this spirit of innovation which sees St George Distillery delivering a formidable number of varieties, while never compromising their standard of quality.

Brewer of the Year: Little Creatures Brewery

Brew Master: Russ Gosling
Location: Geelong, Vic and Fremantle, WA

The big heart of Little Creatures

Straightforward, approachable and refreshingly bright. Little Creatures Brewery and their legendary beers have become a staple of the Australian craft-beer scene.

Self-proclaimed devotees of tasting explorations, the makers behind the flavour profiles of Little Creatures are as lively as the beers themselves. “We make beer for fun and take pleasure when punters appreciate our labours,” they say, and the fact sparkles in every drop.

"One of the brewers gets sent to the beer shop with a wish list from the team. Upon returning, we taste together, debate fiercely, and then I declare, 'that’s the one we’re making'. Of course, we have no idea of the recipe, but that’s the brainstorming process; being honest, we’re inclined to make it up from there."

Homely, comforting and easy to drink, Little Creatures make no secret of their obsession with hops. They love the zesty, floral soul of every fragrant incarnation. Whether you’re sipping an ice-cold Little Creatures Pilsner on the beach, cradling their full-bodied Stout with mates on a rainy afternoon, or swigging the Pale Ale between mouthfuls of wood-fired pizza on a cosy night at home, each variety from the Little Creatures pantheon is a perfect complement to the laid-back lifestyle these brewers cherish.

Discover the other winning wines in the 2017 Vintage Cellars Best Of Awards, and our interview with Squealing Pig about their Hawke’s Bay Syrah, which won Overall Wine of the Year.